For many people, the application form is the first firm of communication they have with you. There will of course be the candidates who already know about you and want to work with you. However, many may not previously have been familiar with your work, they may have read the supporting documents and hopefully your website, but the application form is an undeniably interactive form of communication.
If you want to get the best applications for your jobs, make your application forms user friendly! What I say below may seem really obvious, but it’s astonishing how frequently people make simple mistakes that make application forms annoying.
Go through the form yourself to make sure you’re not asking the same questions in different places and that your application form, person specification and job description all fit together without contradicting each other.
Think carefully about whether you really need to know the addresses of all the applicants’ previous employers.
The questions on the form are your way of testing the applicant. Actually filling in the form shouldn’t be another layer of testing. Email the form to yourself and try to fill it in. Even better email it to everyone in your team on their home computers (allow them an hour of working at home to do this) so that you can find out that the form works on different email systems and different operating systems. Are there any boxes which can’t be edited on the email version? Are there any glitches such as the form suddenly closing for no reason? Is there enough space on the form for the candidate to give a decent answer? Do the boxes on the form expand to allow for longer answers?
Use the same basic application form for all your jobs (this saves you a lot of administrative time too).
Make sure that applicants can return the application via post or email. You may want to allow other methods of return, for example fax.
When interviewing people, think carefully about whether you really need to print out all the forms single sided.
What are your tips for user-friendly or environmentally friendly application forms?